Blended learning is a concept that has risen in popularity in recent years. Blended learning basically encompasses the combination of online education materials with added interaction between the instructor and the learners on an online platform designed to resemble a typical traditional classroom. Blended learning requires the physical presence of the student and the instructors, but the learner has some element of control over time, path and place.
This article will discuss the various blended learning models, its benefits and limitations to learners and organizations.
Models of blended learning
It is very difficult to state exactly what blended learning involves, but there are several models that are used to illustrate what blended learning involves. These include:
• Face-to-face driver model
These are tutor-led learning sessions supplemented with technology to empower learners to control their learning path. In this case, not all learners get involved in online learning, but those struggling with some specific subjects or working above their grades. Technology helps such students proceed at their pace.
• Rotation model
Here, the students rotate between different stations on a timed schedule where they spend time with their teacher on one-on-one learning or learning online independently.
In this model, most of the material and learning is delivered online via digital platforms and teachers are only available for consultation and support.
• Online lab model
All the materials are delivered online through digital platforms in the online lab model but a constant physical location. This is mainly applicable where there are limited resources for use by the students.
• Self-blend models
This allows the students to take more courses beyond what is offered at school. Such students attend the traditional classes for their schoolwork and on top of this, they attend online courses offered remotely.
• Online driver model
All material is delivered via online platforms. Students work remotely; however, face-to-face check-ins are optional and allow the students to chat with the teachers and ask questions.
Pros of blended learning
Blended learning carries so many benefits to students and organizations practicing blended learning. These benefits include:
• Lower costs
Many costs are eliminated with blended learning, including maintenance of the physical classrooms, instructors’ payments and facilitation fees. Blended learning cuts down the travel cost and accommodation fee for the instructors.
• Accounts for every learner
Blended learning accounts for every type of learner and is suitable for those who like traditional learning set up and those who prefer learning online. This form of learning leverages several methodologies to customize content and optimize it for the subject in question.
• Reach and personalization
Blended learning helps reach many people, especially those constrained by their location, as they don’t need to travel to attend the classes. It is also personalized as people with different levels of expertise are not forced into a similar program. One gets a chance to learn what they need depending on their level of expertise and understanding.
• Fun and engagement
Blended learning is very interactive as learners can practice online what they have learned offline. Here the learners get to choose the kind of content they want to learn, practice what they learn and communicate with the instructor and other students any time using a device of their choice.
• Better learning strategies and feedback
Instructors can utilize reporting features for more focused, data-driven insights into students’ success. The learner can also track what they have covered and how well they are proficient in certain areas.
Cons of blended learning
• Plagiarism and credibility of resources
Having a friendly digital environment may encourage students to copy online resources in their tests. With blended learning, learners will get to research online and might rely on false published information.
• Students may experience cognitive load.
With the wide variety of educational material and techniques, teachers may end up overdoing with educational material and activities.
• Challenging technology
Some online platforms are challenging to use, especially for teachers who are not conversant with this area.
• Blended learning makes the teachers overwork
Teachers need to broaden their horizons with blended learning by selecting a suitable syllabus and developing the educational materials.
How has the pandemic affected blended learning?
Due to the lockdown and measures to contain and prevent the spread of Covid 19, most institutions have redesigned their educational structures and most are adopting blended learning. Physical distancing and travel bans have necessitated the need for blended learning. Even though this technique had been developed before the emergence of this pandemic, its usage has increased during this time. The forced reality has been more powerful in integrating blended learning than the research reports presented from earlier studies.
Blended learning has its bright side and the dark one too. This method is very effective when used wisely and efficiently. You need to measure your requirements with the options available to establish the best-blended learning model. The disadvantages can also be improved and channeled into productive activity. When students have a positive mindset and the teacher is aimed to make this work by listening to the students’ feedback, blended learning will work at everyone’s convenience.